Monday, November 25, 2013

Why I Love Kayak Fishing in New Brunswick

After growing up fishing for trout in streams and ponds in Newfoundland, I had no idea what I was getting into when I started fishing from Kayak in New Brunswick. The vast variety of fish available to be caught here, and the different approaches one has to take was somewhat mind boggling to me!

Given this, the only real way to experience all that is offered to the angler in New Brunswick is to get out there in kayak and see what you can do. Wether it is fishing in the wilderness in and around Loch Alva for huge Lake trout, braveing the rediculous currents and danger around Reversing Falls for Striped Bass, getting the heart pumping in the Bay of Fundy for mackerel, flounder and possibly sharks, or just relaxing while sitting back and waiting for a 4 foot sturgeon to take your line and spin you around, you can do it all in a single kayak! Heck, in the 2 paddler's tournaments that are held each year, you have to target as many species as you can in one outing and need to catch 6 - 10 different types of fish to fishing near the top!

I have yet to target all of the fish that are available to be caught in New Brunswick. Muskie are out there which I hope to catch one of next year, and I've only been in the Bay of Fundy once but haven't caught anything. So my bucket list still has a few species left!

But I have had a few memories I'll never forget! My first night fishing just on top of Reversing Falls, Saint John was with John Caile (aka IPop). John has been around about as long as anyone as has forgotten more than most of us will ever know. So this first night I was following his advice for several hours near Reversing Falls with no signs of a fish, when right about midnight I get a hit on a 6 inch silver rapala. I have never had a fish feel so strong! What a rush! My drag was set at max which was 12 pounds on my baitcaster (using 40 pound braid). I managed to get the striped bass pretty much next to the kayak fairly quickly... not realizing how to fish for stripers. As I was considering reaching for the net... he decided to take off! Whirrrrrrrrr...... My drag had no effect and my kayak was basically moving with the current towards the falls as if I had a motor on the back pushing me along! Heart racing, knuckles white, I was just hanging on for the ride! Then after a minute or two, the stripers rode me right into a bouy, and then he was free.

I did try about 6 more times in that spot over the summer, but have never since gotten a bite there. All is not lost for stripers though. Once night fishing for sturgeon with John, I hit what I thought was my 6th or 7th sturgeon. This fish spun my kayak one way, then the other for several minutes. Expecting a 45 inch sturgeon, I was pretty shocked to see that it was a striper when it finally breached the surface! Thankfully I have a pretty large folding net that I carry on my kayak, which really helped land this beauty! My first striper is something I'll never forget!

The paddling tournaments in New Brunswick are weekends that every kayak or canoe angler in Atlantic Canada should mark on their calendars. Not only are there a ton of great prizes, including a sit on top angling kayak donated by the very generous and supportive Ecological Adventures, you get to meet a ton of knowledgable and friendly anglers, and have a great social time as well. Those weekends are so much fun the fishing is a bonus! This past year being my first, I finished middle of the pack in the Oromocto tournament, and 6th out of 18 in the Hamton tournament. Next summer with a full year under my belt, and a lot more tricks up my sleeve, I'm aiming for top 4 in both!

Another tournament suited to paddlers is the Shad tournament in Chipman in the Spring. This past year I tried it having never fished for Shad or Salmon (they are similar) before. The weather was awful being cold, wet and windy. The current was insane, and I had a very hard time of it. I did actually manage to hook two shad, and both times they jumped clear out of the water giving me a lot of excitement. Unfortunately, I had never had to 'fight' a fish before that has a soft mouth like a shad so both times I was too aggressive and pulled the hooks from their mouths. Next tournament I'll know better! I did however contribute by rescuing a kayak that has tipped over. Only a couple inches of one tip of the kayak was showing above water. I cut the end of my 200 foot anchor line, and after 4 passes, finally was able to secure the line to the kayak without myself tipping over. Then I was ableto get the line over to others on shore who then was able to drag the capsized kayak back to land. The fellow that tipped, an older gentleman was very lucky as he was out without a life jacket and could have been swept away.

A goal I have in 2014 is to take the kayak, load it with some camping gear and what I need to fish for a few targeted species, and paddle into Loch Alva to camp and fish. We intended to do that last year, but the weather and the schedule didn't work out. I'm hoping to take the boys camping/fishing in canoe as well on a shorter, less risky trip, but to be honest, the 4 hour paddle to Loch Alva and fishing for lakers and brook trout is really what I'm looking forward to in 2014!

Anyhow, those are some of the memories I have of this past year in kayak. It has been a wonderful year of new experiences and learning and I really can't wait till my kids Fynn and Rowan are old enough to head out in their own kayaks fishing with me. Fynn has already asked when he can have a kayak with a rod holder!

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